Last week, I started a three-week series based on a sermon I recently preached about three questions Jesus asked. You can read Part I here.
Sometimes the oddest question…the one with the most apparent answer…is the one that challenges us the most. It was just such a question that led one man into one experience with Jesus that changed his whole life.
Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?‘
‘Sir,’ the invalid replied, ‘I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.’
Then Jesus said to him, ‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’ At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
Jesus meets a man who had been an invalid for 38 years and asks him, “Do you want to get well?” Seems like an odd question to ask, doesn’t it? Especially at a pool where disabled people are waiting for a cure. Somehow I can’t quite imagine a doctor making his rounds in a hospital asking people if they really want to get well.
And when you think about this man, his situation, and Jesus’ question, the logical answer seems like, “Heck yeah! I wanna get well! I’ve been laying her for 38 years so bring on the cure!”
But that’s not what our friend said. Instead of jumping at the chance for a cure, he made excuses. “I have no one to help me.” “Others get there before I do.” One excuse after another. Lest we gang up on him too much, I wonder how many excuses we have offered when Jesus asked us if we wanted to get well.
What’s interesting to me is that Jesus doesn’t respond to the man’s excuses. Instead he moved straight to the healing. Jesus told the man to take up his mat and walk. That’s where his experience with Jesus began.
You see, when Jesus asked the man if he wanted to get well, it wasn’t a ridiculous, rhetorical, or trick question. Jesus challenged the man to consider doing whatever was asked of him to be healed. Whatever.
Because the truth is, we can encounter Jesus all day long. But healing only comes when we are willing to experience his presence. In my own recovery journey, I decided every day I wanted to be healed. In fact, I knew the answer to this question was so important that I wrote the question on a sticky note and put in on my calendar for 90 days. And every day, I moved that note to the next day so that I was forced to look at it and answer the question. Every day.
Putting aside his excuses. the man decided that he did indeed want to get well. So when Jesus told him to get up and walk, he did it. No more excuses. No wondering how his legs were going to work after 38 years. He just did it.
Do you want to get well?
That’s the question for all of us to answer. We have to decide if we want to just dip our toe in the water of Jesus? Or are we willing to fully experience Jesus in order to get well?
My answer was yes. And I hope yours is too!
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